What women want from men in the movies is the same as what they want in life - only really, really different.
Women want a man who appears laconic, but need a man who chats.
Women want a man who seems cool, but the truth is, laid-back gets old fast - and so does being called “babe.”
Women want a man who can be dangerous up until the moment he actually is. Then goodbye.
So we get what we want, but can’t take, at the movies. Men do, too. You just know his thing with “Pretty Woman” would end the minute it dawned on him that without a high school equivalency diploma, there’s no way she’ll be bringing in a serious second income. And she wants kids.
What the right guy on screen does for the girl sitting 17 rows back, three seats in, is let her taste it for 138 minutes in the dark. Most women past puberty know that Cameron Poe, the character Nick Cage plays in “Con Air,” would be a real-life disaster. Within a year she’d need both a support and a recovery group.
But screen exposure to Poe, a well-muscled man who’s sent to prison for a killing he committed defending his wife (or maybe it was his honor … whatever), stirs something in a woman. Something a man wants stirred. “Con-Air” has both Cage and John Cusack, playing the white-collar equivalent to Cage as a U.S. marshal, and he’s another stirrer-upper. What a night at the movies! Maybe the baby sitter could take a taxi home?
Too bad that Cage also ranks high among this summer’s disappointments - in his other screen persona. John Travolta, too.
“Face/Off” is brilliant. John Woo’s direction is brilliant. The acting is brilliant. In fact, everyone is so seriously brilliant, they all fail to give a woman what she came for - an erotic buzz. Maybe, then, Woo isn’t so brilliant. What kind of genius desexualizes Cage/Travolta?
Watching Jason Patric in “Speed 2” has all the sexual charge for a woman of a date with a guy who’s not willing to admit he’s gay. He looks good and the moves are right, but something’s not there. He just a versimil-dude.
James Woods is this summer’s surprise, first in league as desirable. Woods is normally so sinister that confessing an attraction to him is like admitting you enjoy chewing ground glass. But as a cartoon character who introduces himself in “Hercules” saying: “Name is Hades, Lord of the Dead, howyadoin?,” Woods’ menacing brand of sleaze becomes a wicked come-on. Disney is, of course, expert in repackaging rodents.
This next is difficult to address. George Clooney in leather, no less, doesn’t do it. Joel Schumacher, director of “Batman and Robin,” has much to answer for here. It simply can’t be that it’s Clooney who failed us. No, Schumacher must have told him to be blandly pleasant, must have insisted boring was the way to go with this role. Joel, George was sexually intoxicating before you got hold of him. Now put him back the way he was.
It can be done. Tommy Lee Jones’ sorry outing in “Batman Forever” can no longer be held against him. As a man in black, he’s precisely what women want from men in the movies. He’s cool to a turn and with such economy - no wasted moves, no unnecessary talk. But, if for some reason Jones cannot be made available, Will Smith will do fine. Women everywhere feel the same - please let there be a sequel to “Men in Black.”
Women also beg an explanation for “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Why is Julia Roberts in such a swivet because Dermott Mulroney - a real anyman from anywhere - is marrying someone else, when the real tragedy is that she can’t have the handsome, droll and intensively seductive Rupert Everett? He’s gay.
Feel our pain.